It’s always interesting to watch someone use some technology for the very first time. It may be the use of a simple cooker that can easily harness the rays of the sun or sophisticated vehicle that can transform itself into a robot (touché).


What is always amazing is the adoption of the technology. Whereas the creator may have envisaged a totally different use, the consumer turns it around.


When you can take a walk into the narrow streets and path ways of Kibera (a slum in Nairobi); here you will see very many clear plastic bottles of water on the roofs of many houses. Why you may ask what is the story here.


Its simple the plastic bottles which used to contain mineral water and other beverage, are being used as water purifying tools. After the water has been boiled the water is put into the clear bottles and the ultraviolet rays cleans or purifies the water.


So Avian your bottles are being reused before the recycling part comes in. someone read about the use of ultraviolet rays and thought well what if. The health ministry now says incidences of water borne diseases are down 53%. A simple idea does go a long way.


And it’s that simple thought that drove some clever Kenyans to develop an interesting programme to help dairy farmers in the region.


Agritrace a non-governmental organization in Nairobi has set out with the help of Land-o-lakes and UsAid to automate all the dairy cooperative centres. You may ask why this is important well this is why.


The Dairy Board of Kenya has done a magnificent job to turn around the dairy sector. The sector is doing so well that it has made a good number of the farmers become big players in the Nairobi Stock Exchange. However they still say that inefficiencies still grapple the sector. For instance most nearly all milk collection points collate and keep data manually. Mistakes are rampant and here comes the Achilles heels: since every thing is done manually, when a farmer brings bad milk and is put into milk distribution chain, tracing the farmer and rectifying the problem becomes an odious or near impossible task. So what does the dairy board do looking for a simple tracing programme?


Agritrace comes in and introduces a smart card for any farmer that delivers milk to a milk centre. The smart card technology has been there for a while and getting the farmers abandon their passbooks was easy.


With the smart card, every delivery is automatically entered into the central database. As a result the dairy board can easily track the quality and quantity of milk in every region in the country. Now that the farmers are in a database their quality determines the price and also if a buyer has specific requirements they can just go to the farmer and get a business deal.


For the farmer the benefits are many; first when quality of the milk goes they can be alerted in hours and the problem solved within a day. Secondly when payments are done the smartcard alert the farmers by sending a short message to their mobile phones.


Since payments has always been a borne with the farmers, money can be accessed from any point of sale such as the ATM, Mobile money transfers and debited directly into one’s account.

Some farmers have even instructed their banks to have a facility that pays school fees straight from the smart card.

All they do is present their cards at the school and the rest is history.


For me it was interesting to see an old lady present her smart card at a milk delivery centre and remind the centre’s accountant that she did receive her SMS yesterday after her afternoon nap.

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